Brave Leadership is Needed Now More Than Ever


Maliu Mafi

As we grow older, we think more about our legacy and how we want others to remember us after we’re gone. As a result, some engage in services to the church, to their community and NGO’s while some believe that serving the nation is their true calling.

As the November Election Day draws near, more people will want to serve their respective electorates and genuinely believe they are the best people for the job. They are highly qualified, they are professionals in their respective fields and they want to end their career running for the highest office in the land.

Whatever their reasons for running, I hope ‘delusional disorder’ (a.k.a. delusions of grandeur), is not one of them and that they recognize the difference between a genuine chance and a pipe dream.

Advisers for the campaigns must ask themselves these two questions: (1) Does my candidate have the qualities of someone in a leadership position? (2) Is there a genuine expression of endorsement from the electorate for our candidate? If the answer is yes, then by all means proceed and I wish you all the best. But do remember that political campaigns are expensive, time consuming and they do take a high personal toll on candidates. Hence, honesty at this early stage of the campaign is critical.

There is a real need in Tonga for political change. Some are even asking to go back to the old system. Though everyone is entitled to their opinions, the old system is called ‘old’ for a reason.

The late King George Tupou V endorsed political reform for a reason and reform is critical going forward. Going back to the old is not reformation, that’s regression – that’s weakness.

We need good leaders who are willing to take us forward to a better and more prosperous future for all, not just for them, their families and their friends.

We need leaders with integrity and who can fearlessly speak out on the critical issues of our time – corruption and drugs.

We need leaders who remember the promises they made to the voters and the babies they kiss during the campaign when they walk the corridors of power.

We need leaders who are able to match their academic qualifications and experience with their honesty and integrity of character.

History is littered with “has-been” politicians who lost their way and neglected the voters who elected them. The Tongan expression of “ko e ki’i kakala pē” (which compares power to a flower garland that loses its freshness, aroma and beauty in a day) rings true the day a Cabinet Minister or Prime Minister loses the election and returns back to society.

Our nation needs good leaders who can speak truth to power and inspire people to support a noble cause that is greater than themselves, who are honest and kind and do not resort to fear tactics to win votes or belittle those who disagree with them.

If anyone has these qualities as well as the support of their electorate then by all means run for Parliament in November. Most importantly, form alliances with like-minded candidates, regardless of Party affiliations, and together usher in the change that we all hope for.